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Small victories, large defeats.

Updated: 2016-10-26T15:00:03-04:00


2016 Phillies Exit Interview: Adam Morgan


Adam Morgan: The Dark Knight Final 2016 line: 2-11, (23 G (21 GS), 6.03 ERA, 113.1 IP, 29 BB, 95 SO, 37.1 GB% Watching Adam Morgan pitch in 2016 was a terribly difficult thing to do. He averaged about five innings per start, taxing a bullpen that didn’t need extra exposure. Those innings in which he did pitch weren’t especially effective, as you can see from the basic line above. However, as I digest his season and all of the circumstances that engulfed him and the Phillies’ pitching situation as a whole, I came to a quiet determination that I never realized before: Adam Morgan is Batman. Yes, it is true, our very own soft-tossing southpaw is in fact the one and only Dark Knight. Mets fans have been misled. Matt Harvey can try as best he can, but nobody embodies the Caped Crusader quite like Morgan. How do I know this? Let me start by setting the mood and have you watch this video. If you’ve seen Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece “The Dark Knight”, it should be nothing new to you. src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="top: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;"> While this speech at the end of the movie might be laying it on a little thick (I can imagine Gordon’s son looking at him and Googling retirement communities at the same time), every time ol’ Jim spouts forth another line, it makes me think, “Holy cow, that’s Adam Morgan!” Not convinced? Let’s go through this, Fire Joe Morgan-style. Batman: “ ‘You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villian.’ “ Morgan was one of the top rated prospects in the Phillies’ system as recently as 2013. After a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery that not only cost him developmental time but velocity as well, Morgan has pitched to the tune of a 5.37 ERA in a shade under 200 major league innings. He could have gone away from baseball after the surgery and been looked at as another topic in the “What if?” chapter of the history of Phillies’ books. You know this type of chapter. Players who got injured and we look back on them as being better than what they actually were. Bring up the names Pulsipher, Wilson and Isringhausen to a Mets fan, and they’ll undoubtedly shake their head, wondering what could have been had they fulfilled their promise in blue pinstripes. Instead of falling into that abyss, Morgan chose to soldier on and pitch, following through with Harvey Dent’s prediction. This year, Morgan became a villain. Sadly, Morgan will probably fall into the dustbin labeled “TINSTAAPP” when judged by those looking back at his career - something all too common with some of the top prospects in the game whose arms just can’t handle the rigorous nature of being a professional pitcher. Batman: “I’m whatever Gotham needs me to be.” Think about those Phillies pitchers who were (at some point) starters this season, and where they all ended up. Aaron Nola - season ending injuryCharlie Morton - season ending injuryVince Velasquez - innings limit reachedJerad Eickhoff - healthy!Jeremy Hellickson - healthy!Jake Thompson - innings limit reachedAlec Asher - suspensionZach Eflin - season ending injuryPhil Klein - person pulled from stands to pitch multiple times The team ended the season with only two of its projected rotation members making it through the season healthy and with many of its other arms compromised in some fashion. In order to complete a 162 game schedule, the team frequently dipped into its wealth of available options to make starts. Even those chosen, however, came with limitations, so they desperately needed someone who could step up each time someone was required to go on that fifth day. Enter Adam Morgan. While he wasn’t much on the bump, there he was at the end of the season, bravely shouldering the burden of having to pitch for a team that was just trying to play out the string. Did he do it well? Obviously not. Yet the[...]

The Phillies’ last Game One


The Cubs and Indians played the first game of the most recent World Series last night. Let us now consider the last time the Phillies did the same because we are bored. It is autumn. Deep in the earth, scientists discover the oldest human skeleton ever found. Up in space, 32 new exoplanets are cataloged by European astronomers. Rio gets awarded the 2016 summer Olympics, Coldplay wins "Song of Year," and everyone’s talking about the first chapter of James Cameron’s planned tetralogy, Avatar. Can the franchise go on without Sigourney Weaver’s character, the enigmatic Dr. Grace Augustine? How many blue alien sex scenes will Americans pay for in one decade? Wait, Coldplay? Welcome back to 2009, when these were the questions for which we sought answers. When the World Series rolled around and the Phillies were set to return to the Fall Classic to face the Yankees, people had even more questions; this time, about the mysterious drifter who had joined the Phillies pitching staff at the trade deadline. No one realized until that month that Cliff Lee had just appeared in the Phillies' clubhouse buffet line one night, and after the lefty was discovered to have already set up a lean-to next to the radiator, eventually Ruben Amaro just claimed to have traded for him. Former Phillies reliever Scott Eyre asked Kerry Wood what to expect from the raucously farting vagabond fingering the post game spread. Wood's ominous forecast set the stage for an epic half-season yarn. "When we first traded for him," Eyre said, "I got a text message from Kerry Wood. I said, 'What's this guy like?' And I got a text back that said: 'Just wait.'" So there Lee was, on the night of October 28, deep in The Bronx, strolling toward the Yankee Stadium pitching mound. In the stands, he was surrounded by the same ravenous, saliva-spewing fans whose horrid nature would be part of the reason why Lee would give up money to not sign with their team as a free agent two years later. I'd say no one knew what to expect, but after beginning his Phillies career with a 0.68 ERA in his first five starts, Lee's performances were generally considered "stifling." He didn't seem particularly rattled to be taking the hill with baseball's highest possible stakes on the line; in fact, he barely seemed conscious at certain points - but we certainly were wide awake, our stomachs infested with the post season butterflies that were becoming a yearly problem. I had grown up watching playoff baseball in which the Yankees simply did not lose. My father, an Orioles fan in the time of Jeffrey Maier, raised me under bold philosophies like "The Yankees are terrible" and "Go tell that boy in the Yankees hat that he is terrible, I have already been told to step yelling at the children." The Yankees' absence from the World Series following 2003 was a welcome development to me and my dad and every other sane person, but in the 2009 World Series, with the Yankees returning due to a malevolent shift of the planets, it felt like the Phillies were facing true evil; not the scrappy, generally likable Rays team they had beaten down in their sleet-soaked fairy tale the previous season. Taking out the Yankees would mean taking out an ancient evil, and that was a taller order, even with baseball's most prolific shrugger starting things off. My roommate at the time was a Yankees fan, and we had already agreed not to watch together, for fear of our good-natured wagers and congenial relationship being obliterated after the first inside pitch. I raced over to the home of a former roommate - an engineering grad student who I once watched snare a live possum with his bare hands - who happened to have both beer in the fridge and a cable connection. I remember him being on the phone the whole time while I grunted and twitched with every strikeout. As dominant as Lee looked making apple cobbler out of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Jorge Posada and the rest of the rancorous Yanks, it seemed each swing-and-a-miss was setting up some improbable comeback, some doof[...]

2016 Phillies exit interview: Cesar Hernandez


I’m still trying to figure out what Cesar Hernandez is. Here are some numbers that a baseball player named Cesar Hernandez put up this year. Hernandez had an fWAR of 4.4 in 2016, the highest mark on the Phillies and 9th-most among all MLB second basemen. In other words, according to Fangraphs, Hernandez was a top-10 second baseman in all of baseball this season. Hernandez had an rWAR of 3.3 in 2016, the second highest mark on the Phils (Odubel Herrera 4.2), 12th-best among MLB second-baggers. Hernandez had an on-base percentage of .371 this year. That was 22nd-best in baseball. The man in front of him? Bryce Harper, at .373. Hernandez walked in 10.6% of his plate appearances this season, the most on the team among players with at least 200 PAs. Hernandez led the league in triples with 11. Hernandez led the league in bunt hits with 15. Since the beginning of the 2015 season, Hernandez has accumulated 1074 PAs and is batting .285/.358/.374. Hernandez hit a career-high six home runs in 2016. According to Fangraphs, Hernandez was worth +4 defensive runs saved in 2016, compared to -5 the year before and had a UZR of 13.5. Hernandez had a BABIP of .363 this year, one year after a BABIP of .342. It was .321 in 2014. Hernandez was caught stealing 13 times and stole 17 bases, a stolen base percentage of just 56.7%. Despite many misadventures on the bases, Hernandez finished the season with a BsR (Fangraphs’ metric that turns all running plays - stolen bases, caught stealings, taking extra bases, being thrown out on the bases - and turns it into an above and below average number) that found Hernandez was worth one run above average on the bases this year. So, you’ll excuse me if I have no earthly idea what to do with Cesar Hernandez moving forward. Most of the numbers listed above appear to show a young player, just 26 years old this year, improving. He hit almost .300, got on base at an astounding clip, and in the second half of 2016 batted .298/.413/.411. Here is he getting four hits against the San Francisco Giants and Madison Bumgarner, who is pretty good, I’ve read. src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="top: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;"> Back in August, I talked about my frustrations with young Cesar, whose good play was often wiped out by mindlessness in the field and on the bases. I have, at times, gotten up on about Hernandez’ miscues. And often times, those concerns were well-founded. id="8cc9f" data-src="" data-aspect="1.7857" style="width:100%" frameborder="0"> That brings us to today's second game, game three between the Cubs and the Phillies West. As of this writing they haven't released lineups so I guess I'm not posting those, so instead I'll just post a couple nostalgic pictures from my Phillies images folder and tell you to discuss the game below. And since Rollins will be on the TBS pre and post-game shows, let's throw this one in for fun too. [...]